As the latest session of the legislature closed this year, reporter Eric Russell was watching how lawmakers would respond to the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. Last year, 376 Mainers died after taking some form of prescription or street-bought painkiller: things like OxyContin, fentanyl, heroin, or a combination of drugs. Russell was the lead writer for Portland Press Herald's Lost, a chronicle of how addiction and death impacts communities as a whole, and thought the urgency of the issue would result in legal changes and ... it didn't.
In this episode, Russell explains to social media editor Jim Patrick how ongoing narcotic addiction spread into the mainstream and they discuss how framing the issue as a moral crisis is impeding meaningful change.
Medicaid is the country's largest public healthcare system. It made up 17% of the federal budget last year. The program subsidizes healthcare costs for people with low incomes, people with disabilities, and families with children. While Medicaid is mainly funded by the US government, states provide funding too. That means enrollment criteria and costs change from state to state and from year to year depending on state policy.
So sometimes it gets a little confusing. Health and human services reporter Joe Lawlor sat down with editorial page editor Greg Kesich to untangle the overlapping systems and detail the recent and upcoming changes to MaineCare, the state's name for its Medicaid administration program.
For this week's episode, Portland Press Herald City Hall reporter Randy Billings joined Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich to explain our city's unique government structure and how it may contribute to drama in a municipal government with no partisan difference.
This week's fight was over the city budget... kind of. The city council passed a $240 million annual budget with a very small cut (.02% of the budget) that exposed deep discord: they eliminated a position for Mayor Ethan Strimling's assistant, which was held by Jason Shedlock. Now Strimling is threatening to veto, an act that would likely be symbolic since the council has the right to override.
The arrangement of our city council, mayor, and city manager has lead to confusion over job roles and decision making power. On this episode Billings opens up his reporter's notebook from the fraught budget debate, explains why the two men who have held the new-ish role of elected mayor have interpreted the job description differently, and how the city might solve this confusing issue.
Portland Press Herald reporters Ed Murphy and Matt Byrne discuss in detail the case of Anthony Sanborn Jr., released on bail after serving 25 years for a 1989 murder. They talk about the circumstances of the crime, and the new evidence that led to his release. They also describe the dramatic moments in the courtroom when Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler announced the decision.